The critical error I see time and again with coaches as they build their business is that they still don’t see themselves as a business. Many take the mindset of a volunteer or club level coach and apply it to their new initiative or business model—or they don’t believe in their service and pitch themselves at a lower amount then they should be charging, which means they give away a lot for free. At Tri Training Harder, a lot of the work we do is about supporting coaches in their quest to have a simple and scalable business model.
Turning a passion for coaching into a business is the dream that many part-time or volunteer coaches want to attain. But how are you supposed to get there? How do you price yourself? How do you stay organized? How do you market your business? All these questions (and more) need to be considered by the budding entrepreneur—but in my mind, they all boil down to believing in yourself, valuing your time, and maintaining consistency among your athletes.
Believe in Yourself
If you have committed to making coaching your business, then you must believe in yourself, your abilities and your capabilities—and believe equally in giving yourself space to grow into the role.
Part of running a business is following a path, and that means being honest with where you are on that path, or your coaching journey. Set your rates based on what you honestly feel you are worth now, with the confidence that in the future your rates will go up. This also allows you the space to grow as you become a more experienced coach.
Our studies found that experience, reputation and branding of a coach were the significant factors surrounding the fees athletes were willing to pay. Experience was by far the main motivator, so it is ok to accept where you are now and believe that your rates will increase in the next few years as you gain experience. You don’t need to have it all at once!
Value your Time
In many ways, the business model for coaching is very straightforward: for all the work you do, you must cover the time you take to do it. Any time you are not actually coaching and generating value is a cost to you. For example, time spent unnecessarily re-checking an annual plan is time that you could be working on another athlete’s training. By spending longer on something than you said you would (or accounted for in your business plan) you have just reduced your hourly rate and eaten into your profit margin.
Time spent writing blog posts or doing social media should also be considered when putting together your business plan. There is a marketing benefit to these activities, but there is also a cost, as it is time that you aren’t coaching. This is one of the reasons we at Tri Training Harder pay coaches for articles!
You may even want to consider your own training time (or coaching education) as a necessary cost to the business. If you see your own performance as critical to the success of your coaching business, you can essentially pay yourself to train, and eliminate any worries about squeezing your workouts in. Simply recognize it as a cost to your business and build it into your plan.
The minute you begin to value your time and place a premium on it, you can begin to build a coaching business that eliminates leaking costs and becomes sustainable.
Be Consistent Among Athletes
It is very easy to set up your business correctly, but then be inconsistent with the amount of time you are spending across the athletes. This sounds really obvious, but it is so often missed. Some coaches prefer a single type of coaching package, while others offer different tiers for levels of detail and time spent with athletes. Whichever model you choose, it’s important to stick with the boundaries you lay out.
The first step towards being consistent is knowing how much time you plan to spend on each athlete. Once you know the amount of allocated time for a coaching package, then you must stick to it. I have never come across a coach who has charged overtime when an athlete requires a little extra TLC—but most other professions are only too happy to raise an invoice if you need another draft, or anything outside the scope of your agreement. To protect your time, overtime should be the exception rather than the rule.
Beyond the value of your time, it’s also important to remember that athletes will talk to each other. One athlete may mention that they are meeting you for regular coffee meetings, while another athlete might not have that relationship with you. It’s fine if this extra interaction is part of a contract, but could be problematic if the two athletes are on the same plan. Try to avoid going above and beyond what you’ve agreed to, because any perceived inconsistency can cost you those all-important positive referrals.
Creating your own coaching business is exciting and exhilarating. Just remember that coaching itself is a process and you will grow your business over time. You must be honest with yourself, pay attention to where you may be leaking time, and maintain consistency across your business plan. If this is your business, treat yourself as a business owner! Remind yourself often of why you started your coaching career, and you’ll find it truly rewarding.